Interview: Stephen Huszar on the Insanely Realistic Practical Effects in RABID and Working With The Soska Sisters
The Soska Sisters’ highly anticipated remake of David Cronenberg’s Rabid is coming this Friday the 13th and, trust me, you’re not ready. The film follows Rose (Laura Vandervoort), who has an accident that severely disfigures her. She decides to undergo an experimental stem-cell treatment, which has shocking consequences. Directors Jen and Sylvia Soska beautifully pay homage to Cronenberg in their horrifying version of Rabid, and the film has some truly jaw-dropping SFX makeup and practical effects that you have to see to believe.
Rabid also stars Canadian film and television actor Stephen Huszar as Dominic, a man who has an encounter with Rose after her surgery, which will change his life forever in the most terrifying ways. This film is brutal and I was blown away by the frightfully graphic practical effects, especially during that scene where Dominic has a scream-worthy, blood-spattered argument with another man.
Dread Central had the opportunity to speak with Stephen Huszar about working with the Soska Sisters, the eye-popping practical effects, working in the horror genre as opposed to doing romantic comedies, and a lot more. Huszar has appeared in TV shows like Supernatural, Fringe, and The Flash, as well as TV movies like Christmas Wedding Planner. Read on to find out what we talked about!
Rabid premiered at the 2019 Fright Fest and will be released in theaters and digitally this Friday, December 13th. It is also currently available in the UK on Blu-ray and digitally.
Dread Central: Hi, Stephen! Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me today. I’ve seen Rabid and I loved it.
Stephen Huszar: Of course! I was just speaking to the Soska Sisters and they were saying how much they love your outlet. They say, “Hi!”
DC: What appealed to you about the character of Dominic and why did you want to be a part of this movie?
SH: Good question! Dominic is a very interesting character. He’s actually a TV star, a daytime soap opera star. I thought it was kind of interesting to bring him to the film. It was neat to see his progressive disintegration, I should say [laughs]. It was a pretty dynamic role for me. I do quite a bit of romantic comedies, so it’s nice to balance my work out with meatier roles that allow me to dig a little deeper into more of an emotional role.
It’s also a physically challenging role as well. As you’ve seen in the movie, you go through a lot of transformation there and I just love the genre. I’ve done a few shows and movies that allow me to show the darker side of myself and that attracts me to the role.
DC: You have a crazy scene where you bite a guy’s face off. What was it like filming that scene?
SH: [laughs] Is this a spoiler alert? It was fascinating. That was the first day I was on set. What’s wonderful about working with the Soska Sisters, is that they create a very safe environment. There’s a lot of sets where that doesn’t happen, but it really did happen here. There was phenomenal stunt coordination as well and amazing performers, other actors. Setting that up and the foundation is extremely important when you’re so out there and requires quite a bit of preparation with the stunts and how we’re going to execute it. And of course, the prosthetics and the makeup. That was phenomenal to have that team there and sort of guiding us and providing that safe environment.
After that it was just playing. We were given the greenlight just to go as far as we can and as crazy as we can. We really just explored that territory of what was happening. You just really start losing your mind and going rabid in that moment [laughs]. So, it was interesting. I love being able to go to those dark places. We were encouraged to do that there, so we had a lot of fun [laughs]. No holding back on that at all [laughs].
DC: I think I screamed when I saw that scene! I couldn’t believe you actually went that far.
SH: [laughs] Well, you, and the rest of the crew who were actually watching it, because no one really knew what was going to happen. Neither did I, really. You just sort of go and you’re in the moment and see what unfolds. But it was awesome. As I said, everything was set up so that we could have our freedom to explore.
DC: What was it like to work with the Soska Sisters, who directed the film?
SH: Oh! Soska Sisters. Amazing. First of all, they’re Hungarian and so am I, so we had an instant connection like that. I’m first generation Hungarian. My parents came over as immigrants when they were very young, and I was born here in Canada. It’s a similar story with them. So, it was really nice to have that blood connection, that Transylvania connection . They created such a great environment for the performers. We had a read through beforehand, we met the actors and we got to know each other. So, when we really hit the ground running, we were familiar with each other, which was really nice. As I said before, they provided such freedom on set. It was very much a collaborative effort and in terms of how the scenes came to be was very organic.
Working with them, they were really encouraging for us to bring our own ideas to the scene, so it was wonderful. We really had a great time. I love those collaborative sets. It wasn’t so rushed. A lot of television that I do you where you only have one take and then you’ve got to move on [laughs]. This is a feature film. They knew that they were honoring Cronenberg’s work. They really wanted to make sure that the scenes turned out in the best possible way they can. They were so honored to have met Cronenberg before and they spoke to him and got his honor to do this. They were really excited about that. He’s such a force to be reckoned with and it was great to be working on something that was tied to his original work for sure.
DC: Rabid features some amazing SFX makeup and practical effects. What was your experience like with the makeup and effects?
SH: [laughs] We had lots of fun [laughs]. I can’t wait to be able to post on my social media, which my publicist is going to be really excited about, of the cool transformation of Dominic. We really had a good time changing the way that the character developed. I liked it! Sometimes, I like to change my outer appearance, which helps define my inner world. When you put a mask on, for example, or when the Joker puts his face on, and in this particular case, we start to show what’s going on in terms of the blood and all the stuff happening on the outside. It’s craziness. It just really allows us to be more creative and have more freedom with this character and it allows us to find the character.
I just loved the experience of working with prosthetics and makeup and the team was awesome. We had so much fun. And they’re professionals, too, and they’ve done this so many times. So, I’m really happy how it turned out. As you said, it was so real and so scary that you believe it, and that’s the crazy thing [laughs]. We just wanted to make it as authentic as possible. So, it really turned out well. And just something fun about the scene that you mentioned where I kind of went crazy and ripped someone’s face off, as we were doing it, it was so specific. We were even adjusting the skin that I was ripping off and how it was flinging off his face, so we were really trying to get that shot where you’re really loud [laughs]. It was lots of fun.
DC: I really do love Rabid, but can you tell me what you are working on next?
SH: Sure! I have a couple of shows coming out right now. They are in the other genre that I do, which is romantic comedy. I have a show called Mistletoe Magic that’s coming out in December, which is a hilarious rom-com about two friends who reunite after some time to go on a hunt for some missing Mistletoe before Christmas, and that’s starring Jessica Sipos as well. And I have another show, also coming out in December, called A Homecoming For the Holidays. That’s co-starring Laura Osnes, who is a Broadway star. It was phenomenal working with a Broadway musical star. She has a beautiful voice and such talent on the stage. We had a lot of fun shooting that. And then I’m just about to start working on a show called Supernatural. We’re starting to shoot this next episode in a couple of days, so I’m actually here in Vancouver just preparing for that now.